The Food Standards Agency’s chief scientific advisor has said potential trends in foodborne infections must be monitored after a decline during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Robin May said data from the past 12 months shows a substantial drop in foodborne disease rates for four major pathogens but this is likely because of fewer patients going to general practioners’ (GP) offices and reduced diagnostic testing during the coronavirus pandemic.
May said understanding the true level of foodborne disease in 2020 and early 2021 will require detailed analysis, work which the FSA has started.
“An accurate benchmark will be invaluable as we start to monitor post-COVID trends and establish, for instance, whether changes in domestic and commercial hygiene practices may ultimately lead to a lasting change in foodborne disease rates,” he said.
“In terms of foodborne disease reporting, the bottom line is we don’t know what the data really looked like for last year because so much of our data comes from things like GP reporting, which people were not doing.